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Ritual (2000)
"Shiki-Jitsu" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  7 December 2000 (Japan)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 1,279 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 3 critic

A disillusioned filmmaker has an encounter with a young girl who has a ritual of repeating "Tomorrow is my birthday" everyday. He tries to communicate with her through his video camera

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Title: Ritual (2000)

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Cast overview:
...
Director
Shinobu Ôtake
Suzuki Matsuo ...
Man (voice)
Megumi Hayashibara ...
Woman (voice)
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Storyline

A disillusioned filmmaker has an encounter with a young girl who has a ritual of repeating "Tomorrow is my birthday" everyday. He tries to communicate with her through his video camera

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based on novel | See All (1) »

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Drama

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Release Date:

7 December 2000 (Japan)  »

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Ritual  »

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2.35 : 1
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Shiki-jitsu is based on the autobiographical nouvella "Tohimu" written by Ayako Fujitani (who plays the leading role). See more »

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User Reviews

Beautiful but confusing
16 July 2004 | by See all my reviews

If you're interested in this film, it's probably because you're a Hideaki Anno fan. This is probably his most obscure film: it only ran in a museum of photography and a few other small outlets in Japan, and in some scattered film festivals worldwide. And for good reason: this is also certainly his most self-indulgent piece so far. You wanted Anno-style work, well Shikijitsu will give it to you, but in all the bad ways as well as the good.

First, the good: the sets and cinematography are stunning. For the shooting, an entire unused building was rented out and filled with strange, colorful objects. The shapes and contrasts are beautiful: a water-filled basement inundated by blue light, a white table with four bright red phones.

There are some brilliantly original set tricks: for example, the windows on the different sides of the building are of different-colored tinted glass, so that when lightning strikes, it appears as sometimes red, sometimes blue or green. The camera work feels distinctly anime-style.

But beyond this, I felt the film didn't have much to offer. Remember the psychedelic and baffling last two episodes of Anno's Evangelion? Take those and lengthen them to 2 hours, and remove the previously established context and character development that gave them some amount of meaning. The film's entire dialogue is an abstract, mostly incomprehensible mishmash of pseudo-philosophizing about love, loneliness, the boundary between fantasy and reality, family feuds and a bunch of other random themes Anno likes to wax poetic about. It keeps flipping from one theme to another, making meaningless over-generalizations about life ("The world is filled with cruelty and malice", etc), never cohering into any kind of sensible system that I was able to understand. All this, frankly, was boring. By the end I was squirming in my seat for the thing to end.

Shikijitsu is packed with symbols that don't symbolize anything. One line that sticks particularly in my mind in this respect is a comment about train tracks: they go on forever without ever once touching, and yet they are part of a single unit. A touching, beautiful metaphor, surely --- but for what? It is never made clear what this is meant to represent. A metaphor with no referent is empty and weak, no matter how beautiful it sounds.

Shikijitsu gives the appearance of depth, but doesn't really have it. Or if it does, it was impossible to discern in the general confusion (at least for me). What's left is a beautiful, superficial film, full of angst and color.

Recommended for photography lovers or die-hard Anno fans.


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